Not enough people are paying for online news, and even when they do, it is usually only for one publication. Trust in the news continues to fall, with complaints about negativity overload. There is also a change in the use of platforms, with users spending less time on Facebook and turning increasingly to Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp. Finally, podcasts seem to be striking a chord with consumers, especially among youth. These are some of the key findings from the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019, presented today at the GEN Summit by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the study of Journalism and Nic Newman, Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the study of Journalism.
“We have to understand how people across countries engage with and use news, and that is what we tried to do with Digital News Report 2019,” said Rasmus kleis Nielsen. He argued that journalism essentially exists in the context of its audience. Understanding the audience–its engagement practices and preferences–is key not only to media’s financial sustainability, but also its mission.
The report is based on an online survey of more than 75,000 people in 38 markets and 6 continents, along with additional qualitative research. It is the most comprehensive ongoing comparative study of news consumption in the world. You can find the report here.
John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of Bloomberg gave a very candor keynote at the GEN Summit 2019 about the way he sees the transitions that the world of journalism is going through. “The internet was never the problem, it was our reaction to it”, he opened, “we are the ones that convinced that readers that they don’t have to pay for our content”. He spoke about trends in AI and their impact on journalism.
“At Bloomberg roughly a third of what we do has some element of automation”, but not at the expanse of journalists, “We need journalists to say to cyborg what to look for, humans to double check. Rather than machines replacing humans, it tends to be humans and machines working together”. The need for AI in Bloomberg has “less to do with saving money, and more to do with being able to cover far more companies than we could before, and to do it in a broader way”.
How to foster meaningful journalism and enhance its outreach and financial sustainability at a time of great uncertainty, increasing polarisation, shrinking space for civic engagement and global crises? Katharine Viner gave an uplifting keynote speech at the GEN Summit 2019 and shared six principles she had successfully introduced at the Guardian as the Editor-in-Chief.
1. Develop ideas and positive solutions, not just critiques
2. Engage in greater collaboration with media outlets across the world
3. Everything that is published must matter to the readers; journalism must be meaningful
4.Report fairly on people as well as power; engage in “forensic reporting”
5. Make journalism more diverse and inclusive; reach out to marginalized and/or affected communities – have them tell their own stories and listen to what they have to say about how the media report about them
6. Be financially sustainable – experiment with contribution and membership models; membership should be embedded in the strategy, rather than be a mere brand extention; clearly articulate the outlet’s purpose and impact in the world.
How to better create and distribute content using AI was the topic of this session. A panel, moderated by Jeff Kofman, CEO of Trint, explored the benefits and difficulties of automation. ‘People often will say it is going to take our jobs. But in fact, I think if used effectively, AI can help us improve our jobs,’ Kofman explained. The main question the panel discussed was: where is AI going to take us in 10 years?
See more session videos here.
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